McCombs School of Business

Clay Johnston, dean of the Dell Medical School, has started from scratch in March to build up the staff and partnerships for the school. Johnston’s greatest challenge thus far has been to focus his energy on key functions of the school, such as initial accreditation.

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s Note: This is the last in a series of Q-and-A’s with UT’s deans. Dr. Clay Johnston is dean of the Dell Medical School. He was appointed dean in January 2014. The interview has been edited for clarity. The McCombs School of Business declined our requests for an interview.

The Daily Texan: What sorts of things have happened in the medical school since the Texan last spoke to you? 

Clay Johnston: We’ve been hiring a lot of people. Hiring people is one of the most important things we do. We are almost entirely focused on [hiring] leaders. Now we have three department chairs, with another four to recruit. We had a visit from the accrediting body in February. And that visit went really well. We will hear about accreditation for sure in June. If that goes well, we will start accepting applications for July 2016.  

DT: What kind of relationship do you foresee between the medical school and the rest of UT? 

Johnston: We have started the first program that cuts across schools, called the Design Institute for Health. It’s us and the College of Fine Arts. We will announce another program like this that will include LBJ, McCombs and the Law School within a month. In addition we will start programs that reflect how we hope to find solutions to health problems.  

DT: What has the recruiting process been like so far? 

Johnston: For us, the most logical way to recruit is to recruit the leaders and have the leaders recruit their people. There are some urgent needs we have to fill, so we are recruiting a small number of faculty along the way. In terms of staff, we met those needs right away. We did inherit clinical faculty from UT Southwestern. 

DT: Recently, the University announced a partnership between the medical school and Huston-Tillotson University. Can you tell us about that, and what are the things you look at when it comes to working together with other organizations, such as Seton? 

Johnston: We have a bunch of partnerships, and we will always rely on those. As opposed to our own stuff, we are trying to work as a coordination and creativity engine to move other entities forward. Seton is a key one because they are a primary in-patient partner. The other major partner for us is Central Health, the Travis County health care district. They make sure that poor people get health care and they do that through contracting with different providers. A lot of teaching will happen there. ... Huston-Tillotson is brand new. We are focused on how we deal with mental health disparities in Travis County. Huston-Tillotson is great partner to help us think about that. 

DT: How can the medical school address disparities in health care access? How could it work to alleviate some of the problems? 

Johnston: I see that as one of the critical roles for us. Right now, too much money is being spent on the emergency room and stuff that happens in the hospital, whereas if we shift the dollars and spending more to promoting health, creating a better environment for people, encouraging them to make better choices and identifying conditions early, we could save tons of money and people would be happier and healthier.  

That’s particularly true in neighborhoods where there’s more poverty. What we are interested in is shifting the payer model. Our role is to help these populations to identify the things that could be effective, potentially to coordinate different practitioners that are acquired to create those plans, directing payers toward wiser investment to their dollar. It will be more effective by bringing good ideas and promoting smart policies and the infrastructure. 

DT: How do you plan to help with students’ tuition and also increase diversity? 

Johnston: Our goal is to have no tuition for a third of our students and to keep tuition low for the other two-thirds. We have scholarships for people who plan to go into primary care — it’s probably going to be a forgivable loan program as the way to encourage it. 

The diversity issue is complicated, and it’s going to be a long-term issue for us. It is important, ultimately, to have physicians look like the patients they are treating. Unfortunately, we’re nowhere close to that in the U.S. health care system. We, as a single school, cannot solve that problem, but we are trying to look at the entire pipeline to interest students in medicine as early as middle school. 

DT: What role do you think the Dell Medical School will play in relation to the other medical schools in the UT System? 

Johnston: We have some fabulous [medical] schools in the UT System. They have been honed through years of tradition. We have this opportunity, and responsibility, to be more representative of where the health care system is going. So the other schools are looking to us to succeed and fail because we are definitely taking some of the risks so they can learn from both. 

Enactus students work to open a coffee stand after-hours in McCombs School of Business. Enactus is a global organization that strives to improve the world through entrepreneurial action.
Photo Credit: Stephanie Tacy | Daily Texan Staff

Enactus, a social entrepreneurship club, is preparing to open a coffee stand in the atrium of the McCombs School of Business, but the stand is missing one essential thing — a name.

Enactus is a global organization with a presence in 36 countries and on 250 university campuses in the U.S. According to Dennis Passovoy, the club’s faculty adviser and a management lecturer, Enactus allows its members to hone their individual abilities through creative projects that ultimately benefit the community. 

“These kids are mostly business students, but they come from all over campus, and they vary in where they are in their education,” Passovoy said. “What unifies them is their passion for social issues. They want to give back to their community and participate in making the world a better place.”

Enactus held a school-wide competition to find a name for the stand. The club accepted submissions from April 13 through Saturday and will pick finalists for students to vote on sometime next week. The top three finalists will receive a free month of coffee.

“We received about 153 submissions, but narrowing them down will be difficult because there were so many great ones,” said Farahn Hughes, Enactus member and business sophomore. “Some that stood out were Texan Beans Business, the Bean Counter and Cap. X Expresso.”

The coffee stand will open after O’s Campus Cafe closes at 2:30 p.m. and will be run by student volunteers. The club members are still finalizing stand hours and menu options, according to Hughes.

“We are discussing reaching out to a local coffee partner in order to better help the community,” Hughes said.

The stand’s profits will provide ongoing money for the club’s projects.

According to management junior Emily Bennett, the late-night stand will be a welcome addition because many college students study late at night.

“A lot of students study in the atrium and O’s later in the evenings,” Bennett said. “It is unfortunate that O’s closes so early, as you have to pack up and leave the building to find food or coffee.”

Hughes said she believes the late-night coffee will be well received.

“Coffee for college students — especially at McCombs, especially late at night — is necessary,” Hughes said.

From left, Tom Gilligan, dean of the McCombs School of Business, and Robert Hutchings, dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs, will step down at the end of the semester, according to a blog post  by UT President William Powers Jr.

Two UT deans will step down at the end of the semester, according to a blog post released Friday by UT President William Powers Jr.

Robert Hutchings, dean of the LBJ School of Public Affairs, and Tom Gilligan, dean of the McCombs School of Business, will be stepping down from their positions, Powers said in the post. The two will join Roderick Hart, dean of the Moody College of Communication, Kevin Hegarty, UT’s vice president and chief financial officer, and Powers in leaving the University at the end of this term.

It is likely the new deans will be named by the next UT president, according to University spokesman Gary Susswein. The next president will be announced in March, according to a UT System timeline.

“Broadly speaking, I think anytime there’s a leadership change in an organization, you see turnover like this,” Susswein said. “Whether it’s Dean Gilligan, or Dean Hutchings, or Vice President Kevin Hegarty who is leaving, you know these are people who have been at UT Austin for a long time and have contributed a lot.”

Gilligan, who could not be reached for comment on his decision to step down, helped shape McCombs into the high-ranking business school it is today, Susswein said. 

“McCombs is one of the best business schools in the country and, especially among public universities, is one of the top, and a lot of that is because of what Dean Gilligan has brought there in terms of developing new programs, in terms of making sure that we have the top faculty and the top students and even in terms of facilities,” Susswein said.

In an email sent to faculty and staff, Powers said Gilligan has helped students prepare for the world outside of academia.

“He has attracted top faculty and students and fostered research that is central to UT’s intellectual climate,” Powers said in the email. “He has also built and expanded multiple programs that support industry while challenging students and preparing them to be leaders.”

Hutchings, who has been dean of the LBJ school since 2010, said that when he took the position as dean, he only planned to stay one semester. 

“We’ve done a lot during my tenure. I feel like I’ve achieved just about all the things we set out to achieve when I first arrived, and it’s been a pretty long agenda of issues and items, so I feel good about that,” Hutchings said.

Hutchings said he will be a visiting professor at Princeton University in the fall and a distinguished fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington D.C. in the spring to work on a new book. Following his work at Princeton and in Washington D.C., he said he will return to UT as a faculty member in the LBJ School.

“It’s fairly traditional when a dean steps down, if he’s going to return to the faculty, the old dean leaves town to give a new dean a chance to sort of make his or her own imprint on the place,” Hutchings said.

Photo Credit: Claire Schaper | Daily Texan Staff

After two years of architectural planning, Robert B. Rowling Hall, the new McCombs School of Business graduate building, is one step closer to opening.

UT-Austin President William Powers Jr., Robert B. Rowling, former System regent and UT-Austin alumnus, and other University officials broke ground Friday on the building at the corner of Guadalupe Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Set to open in early 2017, Rowling Hall will include a café, an auditorium, a special events space and classrooms for graduate students in business administration and technology commercialization, according to a University statement. In a statement, Thomas Gilligan, McCombs School of Business dean, said the building would provide the necessary facilities for growing graduate programs.

At Friday’s groundbreaking, Rowling said the new building could push the business programs’ national rankings to the top. Last year, Forbes ranked the McCombs School of Business at No. 21 among the nation’s top business schools.

“There’s one goal here — to make this business school the best in the country,” Rowling said.

Rowling said Gilligan has started recruiting new faculty for the graduate program.

“It’s not about a building,” Rowling said. “As great as the building is, if we don’t fill it with faculty that’s the best in the country, then we’re failing.”

In March, Rowling pledged $25 million for the construction of the $155 million building, earning his namesake on the building. At the groundbreaking ceremony, Powers thanked Rowling and his family for their donation.

“It’s gifts like these that will affect the lives of the students and the leaders of Texas for years to come,” Powers said.

Eric Hirst, associate dean for McCombs Graduate Programs, said graduate students, alumni, faculty, staff and a design team developed the features of the building over the past two years.

“Collectively, we’ve designed a building that’s going to be a real game changer,” Hirst said. “It’s designed to attract a diverse set of talented students from around the world and to engage them with overlapping communities, faculty, alumni, society, the business community and thought leaders across campus and around the world.”

After receiving harsh criticism from some students, faculty and staff members during the 2013-2014 school year, Shared Services has made some changes.

Kevin Hegarty, vice president and chief financial officer, said the pilot programs in the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost and the College of Education look vastly different than the original Shared Services Plan first introduced to the UT community almost a year ago. 

The original Shared Services Plan, presented by the Shared Services Committee in October 2013, called for the elimination of 500 jobs and the centralization of University services such as finance, human resources and information technology services.

“The initial concept that we presented to campus was, ‘Let’s build a center, and, eventually, it’s going to have 500 people to provide all those services, and it’s probably going to be off-campus,’” Hegarty said. “That’s no longer the vision.” 

The Shared Services Committee held open forums on campus after releasing its plan for faculty and students to discuss and ask questions about the implementation of the program.

Hegarty said after engaging in these discussions, the committee decided to study different versions of Shared Services already being implemented by the McCombs School of Business and the College of Liberal Arts. After reviewing the results of these two programs, Hegarty said two pilot programs were created in the provost’s office and the College of Education.

“The implementation team went in and studied the provost’s portfolio,” Hegarty said. “[They] studied the College of Education, and they divided the implementation of Shared Services — what units get brought into the Shared Services center. We call it the Central Business Office, the CBO.”

The CBO, now located in the UT Administration Building on Guadalupe Street, used to be made up of small groups of people located in various offices on campus. Previously, the CBO provided services to small units, including the Office of the Vice President for Legal Affairs and other organizations that could not afford to have large staffs. 

Hegarty said the CBO began offering its services to the College of Education and the provost’s office about six to eight weeks ago, after the smaller offices merged into one.

While the provost’s office has seen positive results, Hegarty said some departments in the College of Education have been disappointed with the services they have received from the CBO.

“We knew purchasing volume rises dramatically in August, and we knew that in the first 12 days of class, there are a lot of [human resources] transactions going on — appointments of faculty and appointments of staff, etc.,” Hegarty said. “While we tried to staff up ahead of that, we didn’t have enough staff. The service levels came down below quite honestly what CBO expected and certainly below what the college had expected.”

Hegarty said, since this occurrence, the College of Education asked his office to no longer expand the school’s services to the responsibilities of the CBO until quality of service levels are back up to speed. According to Hegarty, there have been no layoffs as a result of Shared Services. 

“Where a position has been displaced, we’ve been able to offer an opportunity in the CBO or elsewhere on campus to make sure that person lands on their feet,” Hegarty said. 

More Monday-Wednesday classes would help students

Human biology junior Cameron Crane was a finalist to serve as the student regent on the UT System Board of Regents.
Human biology junior Cameron Crane was a finalist to serve as the student regent on the UT System Board of Regents.

On Tuesday, Student Government introduced legislation in support of increasing the number of classes available on a Monday-Wednesday schedule. The resolution states that if students have more flexibility in choosing their schedules, graduation rates may increase. Although there's not really a way to measure this, it definitely makes sense — low graduation rates can be attributed to many factors, so diminishing the potential severity of one factor won't do any harm.

Also, the legislation, which points out that the McCombs School of Business already offers classes only Monday through Thursday, says students with three-day weekends could work more hours, possibly reducing their debt upon graduation, and would have additional time to learn outside the classroom through interning, doing research or shadowing professionals, among other opportunities. In addition, students without Friday classes would be able to "attend interviews for, but not limited to, graduate schools, professional schools, and long-term employment with limited disruption and absence from current classes."

Cameron Crane, a College of Natural Sciences representative who co-authored the legislation, said he's applying to medical school, and he had to schedule interviews months in advance before professors had posted their syllabi.

"It's very stressful having to take time off from classes," Crane said. "This caused the stress of, ‘will this conflict with an exam?’ and many professors will not excuse you because unfortunately, it's not a University-excused absence."

At least one UT official said meeting three times per week allows more learning to occur, according to Crane. While this may be the case, I doubt the possible increase in learning is a significant enough difference to outweigh the benefits of more time to work, intern and even to study. Personally, I plan to study for at least a few hours on Fridays, because people generally don't plan much during the day on Fridays, so I'll have fewer distractions than on Saturdays and Sundays. Also, if UT included more Monday-Wednesday classes, many professors won't have to break up their lecture material into smaller time segments.

Of course, the school does offer some Monday-Wednesday classes, but the increase in scheduling options will definitely benefit all students — even if some students prefer Monday-Wednesday-Friday classes, it's no doubt comforting for students to know that they have the option to focus their course schedule on the days they think would be best for them.

The McCombs School of Business building was evacuated after the Austin Fire Department responded to an alarm at approximately 11 p.m. Monday night.

AFD reported light smoke and an electric odor on the scene.

UTPD spokeswoman Cindy Posey said the fire was caused when the engine brake on an escalator got stuck. Posey said no injuries were reported. 

Phillips 66 donated $500,000 to the University to support programs within the Cockrell School of Engineering, McCombs School of Business and College of Natural Sciences, the University announced Friday.

A large portion of the gift, which will be split between the three schools, will help fund the Phillips 66 SHIELD Scholar program, which provides a number of resources, including scholarships, professional development and community service opportunities, for students pursuing careers in the energy industry.

According to Donnell Roy, corporate and foundation relations director at McCombs, the business school received $156,000. Roy said Phillips 66, which is an energy and manufacturing company, has been involved in many key programs within the school, and the two help each other succeed in different ways.

“It’s very symbiotic — these relationships with these companies are definitely two-way streets,” Roy said. “They also support programs such as information management that is strategic to building a talented pipeline of students that can be potentially recruited into Phillips 66.”

Phillips 66 works with different methods of refining gasoline and oil and has approximately 13,500 employees. Rex Bennett, Phillips 66 president of specialties and business development, said the company is constantly looking for new, young employees.

“Phillips 66 is always looking for new voices with unique thoughts and different perspectives to help our company succeed,” Bennett said. “We’ve built a strong pipeline at the University of Texas that will enable us to recruit those who will help us all prosper — both now and in the future.”

According to Kelsey Evans, College of Natural Sciences spokeswoman, Phillips 66 donated between $5,000 and $10,000 to the computer science department. Evans said the University and Phillips 66 have developed a connection over the years as the company has become more involved with different schools within the University.

“Since Phillips 66 split off from ConocoPhillips and became a separate company [in 2012], they’ve done a remarkable job investing in our students and in building a relationship with UT-Austin,” Evans said.

Evans said, while these companies do recruit students through these programs, they also donate to the University for more generous reasons.

“Across the board, all the companies that support UT … do it because they’re philanthropic,” Evans said.

McCombs alumni Bob and Marcie Zlotnik announced a $5 million donation to aid the construction of a new graduate business building Wednesday. 

The University announced plans to build Robert B. Rowling Hall, the new graduate building, last year. The building will increase space for teaching and meeting facilities of the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center and add 525 on-campus parking spaces. The building will be connected to the AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center with a shared ballroom, which will be named after the Zlotniks.

According to Keary Kinch, alumni director for the McCombs School of Business, the construction of Rowling Hall is the first of a three-phase plan, initiated by McCombs dean Thomas Gilligan, to improve the business school. Phase one is to build the hall, phase two will involve renovating the two existing business school buildings, and the final phase will pull remaining McCombs classes out of the classrooms in the UTC building.

Marcie Zlotnik, who founded StarTex Power with her husband, said she hopes the family’s donation will be a catalyst for others to help fund education through donations.

“Education is the key to anyone’s success, and, the more of those who can put money back into it, the better everyone is going to be,” Zlotnik said.

In 2012, universities and colleges were given a total of $31 billion in charitable gifts to support their missions, according to the Council on Aid to Education. The University broke its record for most money raised in a fiscal year in 2012, raising a total of $396 million, one of the highest in the nation. 

Kinch said hte business school worked closely with the Zlotnik family — whose sons Kevin and Mitchell are current UT business students — to plan the donation.

“These gifts do not just fall out of the sky. The Zlotniks have been friends with the school for a very long time,” said Kinch.

Mitchell Zlotnik said he believes the new building will be important to the development of the school.

“The Robert B. Rowling Hall will open up classroom space and allow undergraduates to maximize their usage of the McCombs School of Business,” Mitchell said. “The ballroom will provide future students [with] a great place to congregate.”

The Business and Public Policy Program, a new certificate program offered by the business school to all majors, will launch in fall 2014 after being approved last month by the McCombs School of Business. 

Three years ago, five professors created the business, government and society department within the McCombs school, the first new department in the business school in 50 years. David Spence, law and business professor, said the group founded the program as a way to keep up with the changing demands of businesses.

“We responded to part of a trend of the business school to devote increasing attention to the relations between business and government,” Spence said. “Lots of people who aren’t business majors will go on to work in the private sector.”

The program requires 18 hours, nine of which are specific to the department. In addition, certificate candidates will get admission priority if they choose to participate in the Washington Campus program, recently offered by the University as an alternative to the required “Issues and Polices in American Government” credit.

David Platt, associate dean for undergraduate programs in the McCombs school, said the program is a collaboration between professors from across campus.

“Businesses exist in the larger context of the world around them,” Platt said. “The business and public policy certificate program is the outcome of much thought and preparation by BGS … to respond to the interests and career goals of UT Austin students.”

Robert Prentice, business professor and the new department’s chair, said the interconnection seems to be getting stronger within ethics and business.

“Business students need more of a liberal arts edge to get a different view,” Prentice said.

Although no summer classes will be offered, students can take the three classes starting fall 2014. Prentice said they will accept around 40 students into the certificate program. The program is accepting applications until March 1, though Prentice said extensions will be readily granted.

“I wish I had been able to take something like this, and we want everyone to have enough time, so it’s definitely a soft deadline,” Prentice said.

In the future, Prentice said he would love to craft the program into a major, but the certificate program will remain as an independent program open to all UT students.